The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, Book #1)
by Alison Goodman
Release Date: January 26th 2016
2016 Viking Books for Young Readers
Hardcover Edition; 482 Pages
Genre: Fiction / YA / Historical / Paranormal
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
London, April 1812. On
the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the
queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into
the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of
the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating
every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation
is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and
headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?
The Dark Days Club was quite different than what I expected; the strong mystery, the paranormal element, the intrigue, the regency element, and the romance combined with a very strong-willed and interesting heroine make for intriguing and fun reading. I was already a huge fan of her fantasy duology Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and Eona: The Last Dragoneye, so I was thrilled to receive the first two books in the Lady Helen trilogy in the mail.
First of all, what I really like about this author's books is the way she is able to blend the fantasy into her settings. So our heroine, Lady Helen, was brought up in true Regency style, learning to become a proper young lady, destined to possibly marry a duke or an earl. With a very rigid moral code, she struggles to become the proper young lady her uncle and aunt demand of her, especially as she seems to have inherited this restless energy and wild side that cause her to do impetuous and impulsive things that get her in a lot of trouble. When she learns what that restless energy actually means through a chance meeting with Lord Carlston, she struggles to deal with what her aunt and uncle want from her and what this more restless and exciting side of her wants to do. As a modern woman, it is really hard to understand the constraints put upon young women during this time period, and I tend to really identify with Lady Helen's struggles; if she chooses to go against society, she could lose everything that is dear to her including her family and friends, but if she chooses to go with her heritage, she could lead an exciting if ultimately dangerous life. I think it would be really hard for us modern women to really understand the struggles Lady Helen faced and how difficult the decision would have been.
I really like the struggle that Lady Helen faced upon learning she may be destined for more than just marrying a duke or early and attending parties for the rest of her life. There was a part of her that really liked the idea that there was something more in this life for her, and that perhaps her mother was something much more than what she was told. What I especially liked in this story is that she was never forced into her role, she was always told she had a choice as to which role she wanted to accept. And I liked her thinking as she made her decision as to which role she wanted and why; it just showed another level of maturity and intelligence to her character that I liked. It didn't mean that I liked her choices, but I liked how methodical she was in making them.
The author pays a lot of attention to detail, and although the book is a bit slow in the beginning, it really didn't bother me too much as the descriptions were really interesting; it is very evident she has put a lot of research into this book which made the Regency period feel very much alive. She does the same thing with her characters, and I will admit a bit of frustration towards the end, but in a good way, as there were some things I just didn't understand, especially regarding Lord Carlston. The tension between them was fun and I can't wait to see how things turn out. Very little has been revealed about the man, and although we learn he is decent and good, there is a part of him that is hurting and struggling. Naturally, there is always a third person involved and I am hoping we don't end up with a love triangle as I am not a big fan of those.
The Dark Days Club was quite original, and very different from what I was expecting. The characters developed quite naturally, and while we learn quite a bit about each of them, it is just enough to be tantalizing, but not enough to totally satisfy. I found the plot to be quite engrossing, and I liked how Lady Helen was allowed to make her own decisions about her own involvement in things, even if I didn't necessarily agree with them. I am looking forward to reading The Dark Days Pact, the second book in this trilogy, which I just got for review.